Monday, 28 April 2014

The invasion of the mainland

Did you miss us?

It's been a while and lots has been happening.

April is an exciting month - spring has sprung and there are signs of it all over. Rum is greening up before our very eyes. trees are full of blossoms, flowers are out, the air is filled with birdsong and the cuckoo is finally back. Here on Rum the cuckoo is the soundtrack to my spring as he started calling as we arrived back in 2012 and I had never heard cuckoos call so loud, clear and constantly as they seem to do here.

We celebrated our second anniversary of living on Rum on 20th April, which happened to be Easter Sunday this year. We celebrated the second anniversary of the arrival of the static on Rum on 25th April (we arrived five days before the static and stayed in Kinloch Castle, back when you could stay in Kinloch Castle for the first 5 nights). We never expected to call the static 'home' for such a long time, it was supposed to be very temporary accommodation, it's been a great home.

We had three sets of visitors - an overnight stay from friends visiting Rum for the third time since we arrived, friends staying down in the village but met up with every day and a visit from my parents - I think it was their fifth trip to Rum since we have lived here.

We have also had the start of the tourist visitors with many people coming off the ferry for the day trips and lots of student and walking and geology groups coming to residential trips. One such group included a man who had been staying at the hostel when we first moved here so it was great to catch up with him two years on.

We have also had the invasion of mainland germs and all four of us came down with a nasty cold, which laid us low and unfortunately we seem to have passed on to my Dad to take away back to the mainland with him.

So plenty of socialising, chatting, catching up, showing off, sharing Rum and our lives here with folk, all of which is a great reminder to us as to why we love it here so. Seeing your life through the eyes of other people does wonders for reinvigorating you with energy and enthusiasm for what you are doing. It also helps to have some helping hands getting stuck in with watering the polytunnel, collecting eggs, feeding the animals, nipping down to the village to get something from the shop.

Meanwhile on the croft though much has been going on. The polytunnel is looking good - we have a wall of peas at various stages and I have stopped planting for now, the strawberries are doing well planted directly into the ground and the early varieties have already flowered. The first lot of tomatoes I planted are now strong little seedlings and I have begun to transplant them and have a plan to create a tomato corner within the polytunnel. I have a variety of large and small so have fingers crossed for a good crop this year. Herbs are all doing well and are ready for some potting on too, we have had our first salad leaves of the season already with the promise of many more to come and I have various seed trays of stuff ready to put out into the raised beds including purple sprouting broccoli, artichokes, some asparagus grown from seed which needs a permanent bed dedicated to it's long term nurturing, some leeks, carrots and parsnips.

The raised bed area has benefitted hugely from the donation of three large raised beds from our crofting neighbours, bringing my total to 20 (17 medium sized and these 3 enormous ones), there is a space just crying out for one more to be build and I even have the wood to do so and that will complete that growing area for now. I have been working on a brash fence to section it off which has two sides complete and the other two sides still in progress but that will protect the raised beds from our birds and the deer as well as helping with the psychology of having slightly tamed the croft! All of the soft fruit bushes and trees in the fruit cages are doing well with shoots and leaves on every single one - crops-wise it's a great start to the season.

Crafts and produce are stocked down in the shop and craft shop, we have two regular customers on our weekly egg delivery round and the honesty larder at the croft gate is regularly being 'shopped' by visitors buying eggs and jam. I am desperate for foraging opportunities to begin to restock the jams and jellies - our last sacred jar of Croft 3 raspberry jam has been held back for our own use being deemed too precious to sell! I have stocks of heather in resin pendants and earrings on sale from last year but the midges have all sold out so ironically I am actually awaiting the start of the midge season so I can harvest more midges to get crafty with. The full range of Moods of Rum scarves are knitted, labelled and up for sale and Davies Designs postcards are available from the shop and Craft shop with Davies already working on his next design ready for the next print run.

Which brings me to animals - the third arm of the Croft 3 empire - exciting news all round on that front. Tom and Barbara are proud parents once more as Barbara had their second litter just today. Three healthy piglets all doing well - one boy, two girls. They have been named as Salami, Bacon and Sausage Roll. All will be for fattening slowly over the course of this year and their names give a good clue as to the eventual plans for them. Meanwhile though we get to coo over the cute baby piglets!

And on the same day the tenacious geese finally hatched the first of the many eggs they have been sitting on for weeks and weeks, defying all ravens and hooded crows and we have goslings!

I only have a picture of one but the children assure me they have seen at least 8...

No broody chickens, ducks or turkeys as yet but we are getting eggs from all three and know they are fertile as we have seen evidence of mating from all of them. It is very exciting that within two years we have had our chickens, ducks, geese and pigs all breed here on the Croft and have eaten pigs, turkeys, chickens and eggs from all the birds. I am very proud of all we have achieved here and days like today with all four of us running back and forth sharing exciting news of new births on the croft and taking pictures of baby animals in the sunshine is a lovely experience.

It's a rather brief update but in order to catch up I needed to whizz through a few weeks worth of news. Normal service should be resumed from this point!

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